Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability Science

Businesses and communities vulnerable to temperature shifts, seasonal anomalies, and other effects of climate change increasingly seek information to guide risk management. The Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability Science group within the Climate Change Science Institute at Oak Ridge National Laboratory explores how the consequences of climate change will affect societal systems, including infrastructures for transportation and housing, industries such as agriculture and energy production, and ecological systems in which humans interact.

The IAV group models relationships between climate change scenarios and aspects of human livelihood of interest to particular stakeholders. This strategy often requires the integration of multiple models. Climate models, for example, provide information about the fate of volatile weather events, such as extreme rainfall or drought. Meanwhile, demographic models represent concentrations of people and how they change over time, which can inform patterns of economic development. By integrating insights from different models, the group projects how human assets may be threatened by climate and how to manage such risks.

The coarse resolution of current climate models makes predicting impacts for individual coastlines, cities, and infrastructure networks difficult. Data are typically generated in 100-kilometer (60-mile) blocks, which poorly reflect nuances in topography, population density, and other factors that could indicate vulnerability to climate change. To address regional or local scales, demand is growing among IAV researchers for enhancing the resolution of climate models. Within CCSI, the IAV group works closely with the Earth System Modeling group to benefit from its capabilities for high-resolution climate modeling.